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Ukrainian forces continue to hold off a full Russian takeover of the besieged city of Mariupol, an official said on Sunday after the deadline for a Russian ultimatum demanding a surrender from the defending troops passed early in the morning.
Ukraine’s deputy defense minister Hanna Malyar said that Ukrainian troops have tied up a significant number of Russian forces laying siege to the key port city which she describes as a “shield defending Ukraine,” the Associated Press reported.
Malyar added that the Russian military has continued to hit Mariupol with air raids and may even be planning an amphibious landing to strengthen their presence in the city.
Early on Sunday morning, Ukrainian forces in Mariupol were handed an ultimatum by the Russian defense ministry to either lay down their arms and surrender or face destruction.
In its statement demanding the surrender, Moscow referred to the defenders of the city as “militants of nationalist battalions and foreign mercenaries.”
Moscow claims that it is now nearly in complete control of the key southern port city, but Reuters reports that several Ukrainian fighters continue to defend the Azovstal industrial district.